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News / City Life

Why are New York’s beaches so shitty?

Why are New York’s beaches so shitty?
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Andrew Raff

As the city's thermometers hit triple digits, many folks get the same idea: Venture to one of the metropolitan area’s sunny beaches. But while the Big Apple does many things well, between its wondrous bagels and remarkably edible dollar pizza slices, New York’s beaches are, unfortunately, not on that list.

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A classic NYC beach day typically kicks off with the epic trek to get there, since the few beaches the city has to offer might as well be in Siberia for most New Yorkers. After the journey, whether it involved being stuck in endless traffic, roasting like a rotisserie chicken on a snarled train or dodging screaming children on a packed beach bus, sand seekers are usually zapped by the stress it took to arrive.

Then the real pitfalls start to pile on like garbage on a restaurant-packed street: Sure, the city’s beaches have sand, but if you’re expecting the smooth stuff, think again. Prepare to gingerly step through the sharp and rocky variety.

Want to take a scenic walk? A jaunt along the shore involves a minefield of junk; visitors can expect to dodge everything from Nathan’s Famous wrappers to hypodermic needles and beer cans. And if you think a dip in the water provides a welcome respite, you’re sadly mistaken—unless you’re into weak surf and bone-chilling temperatures.

Despite all of the above, you’re typically also forced to push through massive crowds made of hapless tourists and exasperated residents, all forming snaking lines for the bathroom, the overpriced, limited concessions and anything else in sight. And if you dare visit on an overcrowded holiday weekend, well, you’re in my prayers.

All of it makes you want to just nose-dive into the notably polluted East River in order to grasp at a moment of cool on a steamy city summer day. Almost.



Liam M

What the hell is that - did the writer actually visit any beaches (doubt it)?

a: most New Yorkers live in Brooklyn and Queens, so Coney Island/Brighton/Manhattan and Rockaway beaches aren't in 'Siberia' for most of us.  I live in Kensington, Brooklyn where I can get to Coney Island in 30 minutes by train and Ft. Tilden in 45 minutes by bike.

b: the Rockaway sand is the same as it is in the Hamptons or Jones Beach, so....

c: we have Long Island sound beaches (Orchard), New York harbor beaches (CI, Manhattan, Brighton, Plumb), and Atlantic Ocean-facing beaches (Rockaway/Jacob Riis/Tilden

d: cold water is the BEST when you've been roasting under a hot summer sun.  Bathtub-warm water is nice for endless swimming/snorkeling and whatnot, but offer no relief from a hot day.

m j

...why so negative? Sure, it can be a trek to get to the beach, as it is for just about anyone in the country who doesn't live on the shore. If you hate the subway and buses, try a bike or ferry.

The sand isn't rocky; it's, well, sandy. Once it gets to the mid 80s or above, as it oh so often does, the water is refreshing and warm to swim in. If you hate the garbage so much, try picking up plastic litter instead of whining about it. If the crowds bother you, go to Fort Tilden instead of Coney Island. Or, I don't know, maybe try to actually enjoy the amenities provided? Live music, surf shops, food trucks, board walks, frozen margaritas... I love the beaches here. 


Fucking Christ, Rob. Do you have any idea the headline under which you're writing this drivel? Let me remind you: "Why Are New York's Beaches Shitty?". Did you answer why? No, Rob; you didn't. You emphatically did not. You perhaps, by some bastardized stretch of the imagination answered "how?", but "why?" ... Rob? No. No, you most definitely did not. Nor did you make an effort to do so. Are New York's beaches shitty? Yes. Yes they are, Rob. Did you answer why? Fuck no. Get your shit together. Do better, Rob. When you wake up, ask yourself, "do I want to write what my editors want me to write?"; if the answer is no, Rob — fuck your editors. Never write something of this caliber again. Be free. Spread your wrings. This is dog shit.